The US Army’s top enlisted soldier says he has never heard of any problems resulting from transgender persons serving in the military, echoing the sentiments of the top officer, the Army chief of staff. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey said, “I agree with the chief we haven’t heard any issues or concerns, and I personally have not had any issues or concerns.”
Dailey was underscoring what Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, told Congress earlier this month: that no problems had been reported from the service regarding what is believed to be a small number of transgender persons serving in the Army.
It’s not clear if the lack of reports is due to the small number of transgender people serving. The Pentagon has resisted publicly stating how many transgender persons are on active duty.
But Milley’s and Dailey’s comments could potentially undermine the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict the ability of transgender people to serve. The fate of the matter now rests in several federal court cases, and the Pentagon has refused to talk about it publicly while the issue remains unresolved.
In the past, it’s been argued that the cohesion of a military unit could be undermined by the inclusion of transgender service members. But Dailey, when asked, gave no indication that he thought that is a problem. He also acknowledged he served on the Pentagon’s review panel of transgender service.
In March the White House announced a policy to ban most transgender people from serving in the US military. The policy followed a lengthy review and months of controversy after President Donald Trump caught the Pentagon by surprise in July 2017 when he tweeted, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow …… Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…. ….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you”
In announcing the new policy last month, the Pentagon sought to make it more focused on the deployability of transgender persons. According to a Pentagon memo about the new policy after the review was completed, exceptions to the ban include people who have been “stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession,” service members who “do not require a change of gender” and troops who started serving under the Obama administration’s policy prior to the new memo.
“This new policy will enable the military to apply well-established mental and physical health standards – including those regarding the use of medical drugs – equally to all individuals who want to join and fight for the best military force the world has ever seen,” the White House said at the time. The new policy would potentially ban individuals who may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery.
But the entire matter remains the subject of litigation. So for now, the Pentagon “will still comply with federal court rulings and continue to assess and retain transgender service members,” said Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman.